November 24, 2020

Early Success in UMass Lab

Allyson Rosati ’19, ’20G publishes environmental epigenetics breakthrough
Allyson Rosati began research as a sophomore with her mentor, Associate Professor Richard Pilsner, in his state-of-the-art environmental epigenetics lab at UMass Amherst.

Allyson Rosati arrived on the UMass Amherst campus from her nearby hometown of Holliston, Massachusetts with a dream of doing research that could improve human health. “I wanted to do something that would have a practical impact in a health-related field,” recalls Rosati, who joined the environmental epigenetics lab of associate professor Richard Pilsner as a sophomore.

It’s very rare for an undergraduate to publish research as the lead author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Rosati accomplished this and more after her research team identified a biomarker in sperm DNA that may predict male reproductive health and refine the diagnosis of male infertility. Rosati, 23, wrote a paper that was recently published paper in the journal Human Reproduction as part of her Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) thesis in 2019. 

Rosati was lead author of groundbreaking research published in the November 2020 issue of the journal Human Reproduction.

A double-major in Spanish and biochemistry and molecular biology, Rosati also took advantage of the semester abroad offering, studying in Madrid in the spring of her junior year. As a senior,  she received a UMass Rising Researcher award and went on to complete a master’s degree at UMass, continuing her research in Pilsner’s lab. She graduated last spring from the one-year Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program. 

Rosati was mentored by Pilsner and associate professor Brian Whitcomb, both co-authors of the paper. “It’s wonderful to witness the growth of students’ scientific curiosity and their independence as researchers, and Allyson is a perfect example,” Pilsner says. “Her success exemplifies the high-caliber undergraduate students enrolled in the CHC program and other majors, and she was able to seamlessly transition into graduate studies in one of the 4 + 1 programs on campus.”

Whitcomb agrees: “Allyson is a superstar, able to do lab work and deal with complicated data. It’s always inspiring to work with that level of student.” 

Rosati is now on the job market, poised to carry out more research that can advance human health. “I’m really glad I chose UMass,” she says. “It’s such a great research university, and the research opportunity was a high point of interest for me. I met a lot of amazing people, had a lot of cool experiences, and I got to study abroad and do a master’s in one year.”